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tv   Sanjay Gupta MD  CNN  November 16, 2013 1:30pm-2:01pm PST

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sure to watch cnn tomorrow night 9:00 eastern. it's called "the assassination of president kennedy." that's 9:00 eastern right here on cnn. i'm don lemon. the cnn newsroom is back live at the top of the hour. in the meantime, here's dr. sanjay gupta. hey there. i'm in london on assignment. and there's a pharmaceutical company here that is trying to turn secretly grown marijuana, weed, into a medicine. also, new guidelines are out on drugs to lower your cholesterol. a lot more people will be prescribed them, up to 70 million people. but for many, there's a better alternative. and a device like this. can it really tell if you just got hit hard enough to have a concussion? but first, as you may know, i travel the world in search of new, sometimes alternative
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therapies to treat people. the answer is not always pharmaceutical medicines. as i found this year, marijuana can sometimes help when nothing else does. but legally it is so difficult to obtain in many places around the world, including right here in the uk. but you're about to meet jamie, who has done something not previously thought possible, and could offer a glimpse of the future of medical marijuana. >> are we number 29 or 22? >> in just a few moments, 33-year-old jamie will get the medicine he says he desperately needs. the medicine his doctor prescribed. we weren't allowed to record him inside this pharmacy. but there, you can see him waiting. >> in my country, no, they woman dispense it. >> this is no ordinary visit to the pharmacy. he had to fly from his home in the uk to here in the netherlands. and this is no ordinary medicine. it is known as medical marijuana.
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illegal in the uk. are you more functional, can you do things you would not otherwise be able to do? >> yeah. >> as soon as he gets his medication, within minutes, he's in the closest coffee shop. >> i need to borrow a grinder and order a cup of coffee. >> so he can light up. >> thank you very much. >> and find some relief. >> this is like christmas. you can't wait for it to get here. once it's here, you don't want it to go. >> what happened? >> i was attacked in a subway when i was 13 and got my back fractured in three places. then a work accident, and i opened up all three fractures again when i was 18. >> so you were originally beat up? >> beat up, yeah. >> and three spinal fractures? >> three spinal fractures. i was told it was a miracle i
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wasn't disabled from that. >> he saw doctor after doctor and took a staggering amount of medicines. but none of it really worked for him. and the young man was pretty certain he had reached the end of the line. >> it was my only option. it was my only chance of a piece of happiness. >> that's really how bad things were? were you thinking about ending your life? >> yeah, yeah. >> until his doctor prescribed medical marijuana. only problem, it is illegal in the uk. dr. ely silver is a urologist. would you say medical marijuana has been accepted in the medical community here? >> if you use it for appropriate
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patients is, who are not responding to conventional therapies, then canibanoids, i think is entirely reasonable and most of my colleagues believe this is an entirely acceptable way of treating patients. >> but here again in the uk, the law hasn't caught up with the attitudes of those doctors, forcing jamie's journey. so you were nervous the first time? >> yes, completely. >> he declared his medical marijuana to the customs agent and was allowed to bring it back here. so this is your medicine now? so his home. jamie hopes none of this is forever. and would love to be off all of his meds one way, including medical marijuana. >> i want to be fixed. i don't want to keep medicating. i want my life back. i want to be able to work and go out partying with the rest of the world. i want to be able to drive a car. i want to walk down the road and get a pint of milk. >> this helps with the pain, but
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this doesn't fix the underlying problems. >> doesn't fix the underlying problems, but it helps a hell of a lot with the pain. >> extreme measures. but i've seen versions of the story again and again, on both sides of the atlantic. as laws don't seem to keep up with doctor's growing interest in this plant. back in the united states, obama care is shaking up the system. it's been a bumpy start, but this week, we got the first cold facts about how many people have signed up for this new insurance through the website. fewer than 27,000 people made it through the federal website in october to get enrolled. many states have their own websites, and in california alone, more people enrolled then on the federal website. you can see how your own state is doing at if you have insurance through your job, through medicare,
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medicaid, you're already set up. if not, you do have to sign up, but you have until march 31 to avoid that fine. next up, we have some new guidelines that might make it seem like everyone is going to be taking statins to lower their cholesterol. the question is, should you? [ male announcer ] this is jim, a man who doesn't stand still. but jim has afib, atrial fibrillation -- an irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem. that puts jim at a greater risk of stroke. for years, jim's medicine tied him to a monthly trip to the clinic to get his blood tested.
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a mantra you've probably heard on this show or from your own doctor, know your numbers. we've always been told this. with heart health, knowing your cholesterol number is key. that is until now. what are these numbers we're talking about? first of all, what doctors typically have been aiming for is to get the total cholesterol below 200. good cholesterol, hdl, above 60. and ldl, lousy, bad cholesterol, below 100. that's often times when doctors would think about a statin. but under these new guidelines, things changed dramatically. someone that has diabetes,
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they'll be recommended to take a statin recommendation. if they have history of heart disease, get a statin medication. if their bad cholesterol is high, above 190, obviously they're going to be recommended a statin medication. then this. if your ten-year risk is over 7.5%, you will be recommended a statin medication. but the point is this -- if you do the math, you could double the number of people taking statin medications over the next couple of years. it's about 35 million taking it now. could go up to 70 million people. white it may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, is it going to make us live longer, as well? this may surprise you, but the answer to that question is not still clear. it's a lot to digest. i wanted to bring in dr. steven nissen. let me ask a couple of questions. i'm not a cardiologist, but is
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there a little bit of white flag waving going on? are you concerned? we know how to prevent a lot of heart disease, and you better than anybody. when something like this comes out, what is the message for people who should be doing the basics better? >> well, first of all, no drug is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. let's be very clear about that. that the first line of defense against heart disease is lifestyle. that means keeping your body weight down at normal levels to avoid diabetes particularly. that means exercising regularly, and that means eating a healthy diet, which most of us now believe is a mediterranean diet, which interestingly enough is not a low-fat diet, it's a diet that's fairly rich in fats, but good fats. so exercise, diet, those are the mainstays of prevention. the problem is, in america, we
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have gotten so far out of the ideal lifestyle that millions, tens of millions of americans have levels of cholesterol that are very unhealthy. we would like to do this all with a healthy lifestyle, but healthy lifestyle has not worked out very well for the majority of americans. they either don't do it or they don't do it well enough to get their cholesterol levels under control. >> patients come to you and say here's the question i want to know the answer to before take thing med, am i going to live longer? what do you tell them? >> there are data that show in certain populations, statins seem to prolong life. but not in everybody. the most compelling evidence is that they prevent heart attack and probably stroke, as well. what you don't see so clearly is in what we call primary prevention. that is people that don't yet
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have heart disease, is there compelling evidence that statin drugs prolong life in those people? the answer is it's not quite as compelling. it's less compelling in women than in men. if you look at the totality of the data, most of us believe that there is a mortality benefit, but sit a more modest benefit than on the benefit of preventing heart attacks and strokes. >> but you are balancing it in this case with some potentially serious side effects. muscle pain, weakness, increased risk for liver disease, in some case type ii diabetes. so how do you balance it with those side effects? >> the guideline writers did their own analysis, and they came to the conclusions that more people should be treated. now, i want to be clear about something, statins, the drugs that we use for treating
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cholesterol are safe. they do have adverse effects, but the serious adverse effects are uncommon. those include muscle injury that can actually be serious and even life threatening. that's extremely rare on st stattens. what's not so rare is muscle aches and pains. we can off treat that by switching to a lower dose or changing to a different statin. >> you described this as a tectonic shift. you're predicting 35 million new prescriptions for statins. a lot of people suspicious about what this means for pharmaceutical companies. are they really drive thiing th train? >> that's a great question. there's a wonderful aspect of the use of statins now. all but one of them are now
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generically available. you can go to the pharmacy in a big box store and you can get a three-month supply of zocor for $10. $10 for a three-month supply. there are no pharmaceutical companies that will get rich with these guidelines, because these drugs are now very inexpensive, genericically available. this is about public health. >> i always enjoy speaking to you. how about you and i make a pledge that we'll both continue to beat the drum on prevention, because it's so important and people need to know that as you pointed out. appreciate you being on the show today. thank you. >> my pleasure. coming up, sensors that are supposed to tell if a hit to the head is hard enough to cause an injury. we'll put them to the test.
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ll? it's lots of things. all waking up. connecting to the global phenomenon we call the internet of everything. ♪ it's going to be amazing. and exciting. and maybe, most remarkably, not that far away. we're going to wake the world up. and watch, with eyes wide, as it gets to work. cisco. tomorrow starts here. is what makes us different. we take the time to get to know you and your unique health needs. then we help create a personalized healthcare experience that works for you. and you. and you. with 50 years of know-how, and a dedicated network of doctors, health coaches, and wellness experts, we're a partner you can rely on -- today, and tomorrow. we're going beyond insurance to become your partner in health. humana.
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football can be a dangerous game. we talk about it quite a bit on this program. a high school player died in arizona this week from a head injury. many parents and players and coaches, they're looking for more protection. one approach to prevent these injuries involves helmet sensors. the companies that market them say they can tell if a blow to the head is too hard and requires a closer look. but now that these sensors have been around for a while, the question is how well do they work? we decided to find out. >> the quarterback ran and i tacked him.
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we just both hit the ground. >> 13-year-old eric sweeney is describing a concussion he suffered a few weeks ago. >> it didn't hurt or anything, it just felt fuzzy on the back of my head. >> on the team's sideline, no one saw the play. and despite that fuzzy feeling, eric was willing to go. >> he came out after that play, but he was ready to go back in. >> but he was stopped short. it's a sensor worn under the helmet. it flashes red if a severe hit. >> he sat out one play and began to get dizzy, then the headache. then it became evident something was not right. >> fortunately the impact indicator flashed red and he was removed from the game. >> concussion sensors, they're beginning to pop up on all sorts of playing fields.
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>> so try that on. >> they're marketed as being able to measure whether a hit is too hard. and as in eric sweeney's case, an extra set of eyes on the field. but how well do they really work? that is what scientists at this lab are trying to figure out. >> everything is green and that's what we would expect. >> a low level impact, and all the products tested have green lights. but when the helmet drops from higher up -- >> this is probably going to be over 100 gs. big hit. three, two, one. that is surprising. so nothing went off there. >> that's well into the range of concussion. you have definitely want an alert at 110 gs. >> steffen duma, an engineer who leads the testing at virginia tech, decides to drop from six feet. >> i would be concerned if this does not trigger one of those. three, two, one.
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>> that impact, 130 gs, is like running full speed into a brick hall. one device did trigger. the other did not. >> that's ready. >> then a higher drop, one product flashes green, the other red. >> so this really kind of underscores we need to do testing and understand what we're measuring when they trigger, when they don't, so parents can have a better understanding of what they're getting back. >> a frequent disclaimer on these products, they do not diagnose concussions, but the devices still need more testing. eric sweeney's light flashing may have been a fluke, or maybe his sensor work eworked. after his doctor diagnosed him with a mild concussion, he sat
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out for three weeks. he got back on the field just in time to make the state championships. >> without it, i might have gone back in. you would think you're dizzy and stuff, you might stay out, you might not. the light determines whether you should or not. >> rebok says the time of test we just saw is not the best way to gauge impact, because the head in that test isn't moving. they say they don't know of any world case where the light was not turned red or yellow. educate, not medicate. i say it all the time. there are other ways to help control your cholesterol without ever hag to fill a prescription. i've been looking into it, and i'll tell you how right after the break. we take the time to get to know you and your unique health needs. then we help create a personalized healthcare experience that works for you.
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and you. and you. with 50 years of know-how, and a dedicated network of doctors, health coaches, and wellness experts, we're a partner you can rely on -- today, and tomorrow. we're going beyond insurance to become your partner in health. humana. to become your partner in health. on the table by not choosing the right medicare d plan. no one could have left this much money here. whoo-hoo-hoo! yet many seniors who compare medicare d plans realize they can save hundreds of dollars. cvs/pharmacy wants to help you save on medicare expenses. talk to your cvs pharmacist, call, or go to to get your free, personalized plan comparison today. call, go online, or visit your local store today.
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we talked earlier about how the new cholesterol guidelines will essentially double the number of people on statins to more than 70 million americans. it's mind numbing. i want to remind you diet and exercise can be as powerful as any medicine, sometimes more so. and knowledge. the first thing to know, what is cholesterol? it's hard to go to the grocery store without seeing a mention of it. can help lower cholesterol.
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supports healthy cholesterol levels. in fact, diet is a major source of cholesterol. but it's not the only source. your liver produces about 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol each day. cholesterol binds the proteins to travel through the blood stream, creating hdl. that's the good stuff. and low density protein, known as the lousy stuff. think of hdl as the cleanup crew, picking up the ldl in the blood vessels and taking them back to the liver to be processed. but sometimes there's too much ldl. >> when you eat more of the bad fats, it causes your liver to produce more bad cholesterol. >> but foods higher in fiber like oatmeal reduce those levels of ldl in your body. so keep your cholesterol in check by eating smart.
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as you chase life, don't forget about exercise. you don't have to become a marathon runner, just a brisk walk can do it. 30 minutes a day, five days a week. even get the same benefit if you split it up into ten minute intervals. how intense? it's okay if you can still talk while you're exercising. but if you can sing, you're not pushing it hard enough. so get out there. if americans would just exercise this much, we could cut the number of heart attacks and strokes by a third, educate, not medicate. so many areas in the philippines are still reeling from that typhoon that hit over a week ago. the destruction in some places near complete. aid is going to be needed now, but also in the weeks and months to come. often times when international attention has started focusing somewhere else. if you're looking for a way to
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help, you can find information on our website, that will wrap things up. but stay connected with me. let's keep the conversation going on twitter. time now to get you back into the cnn newsroom with don lemon. welcome back to our live coverage. i'm don lemon. thank you for joining us. you're not going to believe this story. we're going to begin with a story that every veteran, even veteran police officers are calling shocking. a couple in union county, north carolina in jail this hour after a deputy found a child head cuffed to a porch with a dead chicken hanging around his neck.


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